As this is the first time the British All Winners Festival has been held in Barnsley the town welcomed the assembling teams (and hangers-on!) to afternoon tea with the Mayor in their very impressive Town Hall. We were treated to fine sandwiches, canapés and cakes as well as quite a bit of history, before repairing to the theatre for the opening night of the 44th All Winners Festival.
The Lamproom is a delightful small theatre and the management and volunteer staff extended typical northern hospitality to make us all feel at home. Paul Haley, the Festival Chairman, welcomed the teams, adjudicator Russell Whiteley, and the audience and the entertainment got underway with two completely different plays by both youth and adult actors.
The first, from the Isle of Man, was Broadway Youth Theatre’s RIP Mr Shakespeare – a vibrant and colourful production with excellent ensemble playing. Andrew Halstein made a spirited Servant and was well supported by the rest of the cast. The audience loved it, as did the co-author Bev Clarke who came to support them.
The second play, The Lesson, presented by the Didcot Phoenix Drama Group, was a complete contrast. One of Ionesco’s “Theatre of the Absurd” comic dramas. Very professionally put together and extremely well-acted though rather uncomfortable to watch.
We all then retired to the bar where volunteers provided some much needed refreshments!
A very good start to the week, and we look forward eagerly to the next performance, and giving you all our thoughts and observations.
More news tomorrow.
- Karen & Michael Goodman